Our Story

swim instructor holding baby in pool

“I’d been a swim instructor for a long time when I first became a parent, but it was only then I realized the intensity and fear that comes with having a child that doesn’t know how to swim. You think about it all the time. Even when you’re not around water, you’re thinking about it.” — Nina Natina, Founder of Swim Foundations

Phoebe Natina started teaching swimming lessons at the age of 17, after learning from swim instructor Carl Eddington. She has spent 40 years teaching and developing a method that  would truly allow children to become safe and confident in the water. Today, parents drive from hours away just so their children can learn from her (sometimes even after trying other swim programs). Her teaching has become incredibly sought after in the area — in part because of her experience, and in part because of the specific swim teaching progression she employs.

Swim Foundations was developed by Phoebe’s daughter, Nina, so that the Natina Swim Teaching Progression can be shared with the learn-to-swim industry to develop highly effective and confident swim instructors. Our aim is to help children everywhere be safer and happier in the water.

Vertical Float

The vertical float is a drown-proofing method that uses the breath and minimal movement to conserve energy and stay above the water. This method is the foundation of the Natina Swim Teaching Progression. It teaches students to take a breath independently, to get a feel for the water, and to be comfortable while fully submerged. We use the vertical float to give students an instinctual understanding of buoyancy — something that is critical to developing a natural comfortable swimmer.

Children have a natural tendency to enter the water feet first, and come up for air head first, and this method builds on that. In emergency situations, the vertical float has been used to enable an individual lacking strong swimming skills to survive in the water for many hours while awaiting rescue.

vertical float illustration


We’ve developed a method of swim instruction that works — proven over decades of application — and we believe it’s essential that new instructors become trained in this method. Establish trust, challenge the child, have them practice what they’ve learned, and reward their success — this simple process produces children who are safe, comfortable, and confident in the water. We also believe in eight core values for swim instructors — compassion, fun, community, trust, discipline, confidence, courage, and sportsmanship.

swim instructor holding baby in pool

To work with kids, an instructor must look at them and see a tiny human, likely nervous and in need of encouragement. One must meet them where they’re at, and care enough to help them improve.

kids kicking in pool

Swimming isn’t just about safety, it’s about fun. Instructors must instill in children a love of learning and a love of water. Kids naturally have fun in the pool — let that fun remain, while maintaining discipline.

smiling parents and kids in pool


Group dynamics can be an instructor’s best friend. Another child can challenge a student, inspire a student, teach a student. That’s why a great instructor understands and values community.

toddler going under water


A swim instructor should value trust. Trust between instructor and student. Trust between instructor and parent. A child that doesn’t trust won’t be in a frame of mind to learn. Simply put, trust makes teaching possible.

smiling girl in pink swimsuit


There’s no learning without discipline. We teach our instructors how to maintain discipline in swim students so that they will truly absorb the crucial skills needed for water safety and learning to swim.

little girl jumping in pool


An instructor teaches confidence partly by example —part of maintaining discipline and creating trust is projecting confidence for students to pick up on. Through experience and effective training, swim instructors acquire the confidence they need to be effective.

courage jumping in pool


Leaving Mom and Dad’s side to listen to a new person teach a new skill is tough for young children. That’s why it’s important for an instructor to care about courage, and know how to help their students develop it..


Once children have acquired some basic skills, we help them learn about competition by racing against each other and competing in games. For many of our swimmers, learning to swim leads to competing at the high school level, in college, and beyond. Learning sportsmanship is foundational in becoming a great swimmer, and a good human, which is why an instructor should understand sportsmanship and appreciate its value.

smiling kids being held by instructor in pool

“One of life’s richest rewards is to come alongside a child in his/her learning journey.” – Nina (Natina) Gibbs



  • Program Growth
  • Training and Curriculum
  • Rural Programs
  • Grants
  • Parent & Me Instruction
  • Global Outreach

Nina Natina
Founder, Instructor, and Trainer

Nina comes from a big swimming family with deep entrepreneurial roots. She started swimming competitively at 4, and at 16 left for the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, WA, where she continued swimming and was recognized with the All American and Student Athlete awards. Carrying forward the family tradition of teaching swimming, Nina began teaching private lessons on her own as a teenager. She later coached beginning age group swimmers for the Redding Swim Team and California Capital Aquatics in Sacramento, CA. After obtaining her master’s degree from the School of Global Policy & Strategy at UC San Diego, she co-founded a developmental swim team program at the Toby Wells YMCA in San Diego. Following her return to Redding, she served as a lead swim instructor for the area’s top swim teaching program.

Nina has over 15 years of experience doing business, both in corporate positions at Fortune 500 firms and as Founder and Managing Director at Savi Global. Nina specializes in guiding entrepreneurs and business owners through the process of planning, starting, and expanding their business visions.

Nina is a natural connector. She is committed to collaborating with community and industry partners to create economic opportunity, foster international exchange, and empower teachers and parents through swimming.

swim teacher margaret natina in pool

“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” – Wayne Dyer


  • Teaching kids with autism and other sensory processing disorders
  • Instruction
  • Class Management
  • Training

Margaret Natina
Instructor, Trainer

Margaret has been teaching swimming to young children in the Redding area for over 10 years. Her teaching experience encompasses private lessons, group lessons at Sun Oaks Tennis & Fitness Club, master’s swimming classes, and adult and triathlon training. She swam competitively in U.S. age group swimming and currently specializes in teaching young children with autism.

Margaret has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Simpson University and also works as a Behavioral Interventionist for Connections ABA in Redding where she works with families with autistic children on play therapy, functional skills, sign language, and behavior.

smiling lady in pool

“Obedience is the gateway through which knowledge enters the mind of the child.” – Anne Sullivan


  • 40 Years of Experience
  • Instruction and Child Development
  • Severe Disabilities and Special Needs
  • Babies

Phoebe Natina
The Inspiration

Miss Phoebe has worked in the water with babies and children all her adult life. She has dedicated herself to developing a swim teaching progression that works with every child every time. Her methods focus on teaching the “little human” inside every student and on the importance of being not only safe, but adept in the water. She has instilled a love of water in all nine of her children, and continues to share her passion for swimming with her swim lessons students and her 16 grandchildren.


Our swim teaching method is founded on the principles developed by swim teaching legend, Phoebe Natina, who has taught generations of students to swim and to love the water. For professional swim instructors and learn-to-swim teaching programs in the U.S. and abroad, we offer online training webinars and in-person comprehensive and specialized training workshops. In the Redding area, we offer at-home private and small group swim lessons for ages 0-5, Parent and Me swim classes, advanced group swim lessons, adult learn-to-swim lessons, and more.

Our mission is to cultivate highly effective swim instructors and enhance the quality of swim teaching programs in the United States.